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article imageTim Cook: AR will be as widespread as 'three meals a day'

By James Walker     Oct 4, 2016 in Technology
Apple CEO Tim Cook has made some rare public comments on the future of tech. In an interview, he stressed the importance of augmented reality, claiming it'll become as vital to society as "three meals a day." Virtual reality will have less of an impact.
Business Insider reports that Cook made the comments during a talk with Republican Senator Orrin Hatch over the past weekend. Cook has previously avoided conversations aimed at emerging technology. Recently, he's begun to open up about Apple's plans for the future though, revealing the company is particularly interested in augmented reality.
According to Cook, AR will "take a while" to reach mass adoption, due to the time required to refine the technical implementation and convince consumers to embrace wearing a headset. Once it gains traction, AR will "happen in a big way," however. Cook likened the transformation to "eating three meals a day," explaining that he expects a "significant portion" of the population of developed countries to interact with AR every day.
Cook's interest in augmented and mixed reality seems to be down to its ability to further enhance existing experiences. He is less excited about virtual reality, describing it as "important" but something that "is not going to be that big, compared to AR." It will be difficult for VR to gain widespread market momentum because it locks consumers away into a completely separate world. AR is more accessible and potentially less nauseating for new users.
Cook also noted that augmented reality is a more social experience than VR. Virtual reality fully encloses people, completely immersing them in a digital environment that leaves them isolated from the others around them. This doesn't fit with the current age of social media and widespread socialising. Augmented reality enables multiple people to interact in the same place, facilitating group experiences that could bring more users to the technology.
"Even introverts are social people, we like people and we want to interact," said Cook. "It has to be that it's likely that AR, of the two, is the one the largest number of people will engage with."
Cook did not directly comment on Apple's plans for augmented reality. Back in August, he acknowledged the company is "doing a lot of things" with the technology. He said Apple is currently "working behind the curtain" on AR, suggesting it is building its own platform to take augmented reality to mainstream audiences. This could pan out similarly to the launch of the iPhone. Apple wasn't the market pioneer, but it is regarded as the first to make smartphones a household item.
"AR is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there," Cook said during the interview. "But it will happen, it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today."
Apple is yet to launch any technology directly related to either augmented reality or virtual reality. To some outsiders, this has created an impression that the company is running behind its industry rivals. However, Cook's excitement regarding the field implies Apple's working on something significant behind closed doors, waiting for the right time to release it and make AR as fundamental to digital life as smartphones.
More about Apple, Tim cook, future tech, Smartphones, augmented reality
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